By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
Editor’s Note: The following research was conducted as part of XandOLabs.com special report on “Run/Pass Options.”
Even though the majority of coaches choose to rep their RPOs during team sessions, we wanted to explore the methodology of the 30 or so percent of coaches that use other forms of drill work such has half-line drills, mesh reads and group work to rep the RPO reads. We asked them to select one drill that they felt reinforces the reads of the RPO for the quarterback. Some of the more general responses are below, followed by specific types of drills.
Question: What is one thing (individual work, group work, walk though, etc.) that you do in practice that best teaches the QB to make the right decisions in the RPO system?
Jeff Russell, Wethersfield High School (CT): “Our first RPO that goes in is a combination of an Inside Zone?play and our Stick passing concept. Our receivers coach will?be working Stick with the receivers during individual, our QBs and RBs will be working on the mesh keep/give concept of our running plays from different alignments, and our offensive line will be working on zone blocking with an emphasis on double-teaming the LOS, and slowly working to the second level. Then we see how it all comes together in team and troubleshoot it. If we see an uncovered offensive linemen flying up to the second level too fast, and putting us in an “illegal man downfield” situation, then our offensive line coach will talk to them about securing the defensive line first and only attacking a LB who is attacking you. The QB reads usually take care of themselves with repetitions. The QB will slowly start to see that he can’t predetermine the read.”
Mike Martin, Madison High School (OH): “We evolved into using our perimeter game teaching/thud sessions on Tuesdays (outside zone leverages, WR screens, RPO) as the biggest prep on this. As I scripted Tuesday practice, the RPO aspect of it just evolved into being an aspect of the game plan that the kids knew we would be covering and shoring up at that time. Teach the scheme and any adjustments, walk through any coverage/alignment variations, get some full speed repetition, then just make sure that you create a few definitive pull reads in your team scripts to make sure the kids have comprehension and can execute.”
Josh Franke, Edgewood High School (OH): “Film, film, and more film. Using a flip cam, we have a manager film our team sessions from behind the quarterback. We are then able to break down each read he makes, correct him if need be, and explain why. This teaches the QB to ‘read’ the play and not ‘run’ the play. Too many times, my young QBs get anxious, or want to run the ball, or want to throw it, that they don’t read the play, they know what they’re doing before the ball is snapped. Film can help get them out of this habit.”
Doug Taracuk, Dublin Scioto High School (OH): “I think the key is getting quality teaching periods and then putting the offensive unit in as many live/semi-live/run through reps as possible. We may have only run 33 RPO plays during our games. We ran close to 200 live or semi-live reps of the plays during pre-season practice, scrimmages and game prep practices. With the Draw/Stick, we start with a QB, RB and TE working against a linebacker. The line and defensive front gets added next, so the back can read the draw blocks. We finish with the rest of the skilled positions and defense. When working with the whole unit once they ‘get it,’ you need to add the ‘what if’s’ or defensive adjustments. We show them every defensive answer our opponents have used on film and on the field during the pre-season. During week one, our opponent changed the nickel back’s alignment to take the ILB out of his assignment conflict. Our QB simply threw to a different receiver. The more the QB can react and not think, the better you are with these combination plays. As I said earlier, with the Draw/Stick drill, we start with the QB, the RB and the TE working against one LB. We try not to clutter the teaching process up. Here, we can work on footwork, handoff and throw effectively. We add pieces as the practices progress. With the Jailbreak, Bubble, and Shark, we like to work against the defense. It becomes almost an old fashioned ‘Oklahoma or Hamburger’ drill. We work one receiver against a defender. The ball is thrown to a second receiver who reads the block. A second DB comes from depth or and OLB comes from width to tag off on the ball carrier. This is done once a day in pre-season, while inside run is being conducted. We found that this helps us understand safety leverage and OLB leverage and how it affects our decision making.”
Scott Girolomo, Offensive Coordinator, Liberty High School (VA): “We run our RPOs in our SKELE (perfect pass) and it allows the QB to locate the read defender a little easier. We do not have much time for indy during the week, so the RPO did not get indy practice time after pre-season. We rep a specific RPO in SKELE and then call the same RPO from the same script in team.”
Rick Bouch, Waterford Mott High School (MI): “We run a drill we call Triple Drill every day. The drill uses all the skill positions vs. perimeter defenders, including a DE. For example, we can Zone Read with a Bubble. The QB reads the DE first, and then continues to the next read if he pulls the ball. The repetition of the drill helps him make the right decision come game time.”